I have had firsthand experience with this for many years. Just to share a few lessons I learned:
1/ Give goals the team can completely own and deliver
People feel motivated and empowered when they feel they own a task from start to end.
If the message becomes like this, you’ll be surprised how much people get motivated and take the ownership.
“We want you to deliver x/y/z this quarter. This is super important for the company because (a clear rationale). We don’t care how you achieve this – we trust you. Now go do it.”
2/ Build an autonomous team
Make sure the remote team has self-sufficient capabilities from people perspective, with all key product functions represented (PM / UX / FE dev / BE dev), so they can operate autonomously.
Don’t make them rely on other offices for small questions or directives – that’s the worst way to set things up. You can easily lose 48-72 hours over one small question or one missing asset.
3/ Take a “bookend” planning/review process
Instead of relying on constant communications over many things, try a “bookend” approach: Spend ample amount of time discussing and deciding on goals at the start of the quarter, and spend ample amount of time reviewing processes and capturing learnings at the end of the quarter.
Make sure the team spends the bulk of the quarter executing, not discussing; allow asynchronous but highly aligned work.
4/ Site manager who’s very well plugged into the HQ
It’s all about people and having a capable site manager who’s well plugged with the HQ (or other offices) makes such a huge difference (luckily we had one).
5/ Occasional in person meetings
Fly out key people occasionally to have IRL meetings with the folks in HQ. This does cost some budget, but is ultimately high ROI. People who met in person even once a year can form special relationships that can immensely help with online collaborations.
6/ Make the progress visible thorugh open tracking tools
Remote teams can use shout outs and recognition, and one way of giving recognition to the team’s work is making sure their progress is transparently shared with the rest of the organization.
Use online tools like Monday and let the teams’ progress speak for itself. Making sure the rest of the team can see that “Product/dev team is now at 46% progress rate in this sprint, with 16 issues closed so far” is, in and of itself, a form or recognition.